Spokane Journal of Business

Mainstream Electric sees surge of new growth

Company adds services, plans greater expansion

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-—LeAnn Bjerken
Elaine Damschen, president and co-owner of Mainstream Electric Inc., says the company has expanded its services in recent years, which has accounted for a portion of its revenue growth.

Post Falls-based residential and commercial electric service and repair company Mainstream Electric Inc. has been on a growth streak the last three years and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon, says co-owner and company President Elaine Damschen.

“We’ve seen continual year-over-year growth for electrical services,” she says. “And more recently, we’ve started to see an almost equal demand for services across all of our service divisions.”

Damschen says the company was included recently in Inc. magazine’s list of Top 5,000 fastest growing private businesses in the U.S. New York-based Inc. magazine, which compiles the annual list, measured company’s revenue growth from 2015 through 2017.

She says during that three-year period, Mainstream saw a 90 percent growth in revenue, ranking it 3,937 on the list overall.

“At the start of that period, Mainstream was still only doing electrical work,” says Damschen. “Most of our growth came in after we decided to add service divisions for heating and cooling in 2016 and plumbing in early 2017.” 

It’s largely thanks to its newly expanded service areas, that Damschen says Mainstream also expects to see an additional 20 percent revenue growth by the end of 2018.

She declines to disclose specific revenue figures. 

“We currently have 29 employees, but we’re looking to grow our service divisions even more,” she says. “We’re hoping to hire more licensed tradesmen in each, as well as some apprentices.” 

Mainstream, which started as an at-home business in 2000, is co-owned by Damschen and her husband, Todd, an electrician by trade who currently serves as company CEO.

“I started my career as a teacher, but I got involved in the business early on to help out and just fell in love with it,” says Damschen. “Eventually, that led me to go back to school for my master’s in business from Boise State University.”

Located in a 4,500-square-foot building at 890 Innovation Way in Post Falls, the company provides electrical service and repair, heating and cooling, and plumbing services to both residential and commercial clients throughout the greater Spokane area and parts of North Idaho, Damschen says.

Damschen says the decision to add new service divisions was partly due to business advice she’d heard while listening to Jay Abraham, founder and CEO of the Abraham Group Inc., a Los Angeles-based marketing consultant firm focused on providing growth strategies to businesses.

“Todd and I are both avid learners of business, and one of the things we’d heard Jay speak about was this idea that a business should have multiple pillars or revenue streams to support it,” she says. “We realized we might be relying too much on just electric services and decided to add the new divisions as a way of keeping our business strong should one of those areas experience leaner times.”

Damschen says another part of the decision to add service areas came from client feedback.

“Many of our clients have asked our advice for finding local experts in those other areas over the years,” she says. “It felt like a natural progression to begin offering those services and make Mainstream into a one-stop shop for customers.”

Damschen says some of the company’s continued growth also has to do with its membership in an organization called the Next Star Network, a member-owned, national trade organization based in Minneapolis that provides its members with business and leadership coaching, as well as networking opportunities.

“Next Star has over 620 members who all share the same business model,” she says. “Having access to their network and advice has helped us to continue to be successful.”

Damschen says she has been part of the Next Star Network’s board of directors for two years now, helping to represent the electrical trade at the national level. 

“The board focuses on member issues and concerns, as well as initiatives like how to bring more youth and veterans into the trades industries,” she says. “We recently created some online education courses for heating, cooling, and plumbing that our members can subscribe to, and hope to add one for electrical soon.”

Damschen says that given the current shortage of skilled tradesmen, it can be hard to find qualified candidates to hire.

“Part of it is that the education system is still so focused on college-bound students and less on the trades,” Damschen says. “Another part of it is that Mainstream is a company that insists employees be able to pass a background check, be drug free, and have a clean driving record, which lowers the pool we have to choose from.”

In spite of those challenges, Damschen says she’s optimistic the shortage will work itself out eventually.

“We actually have one employee who is a first-year North Idaho college professor, and he says the number of students going into those fields is increasing,” she says. “There’s also an influx of people moving to this area, which helps too.”

Looking ahead, Damschen says the company is also contemplating expanding to include a second location.

 “We’d like to find another Northwest city to expand into,” she says. “Some of the areas we’re considering are Seattle, Boise, and Portland.”

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken covers health care at the Journal of Business. A Minnesota native and cat lover, she enjoys beachside vacations and writing poetry. LeAnn has worked for the Journal since 2015.

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